Reading Time and Parenting

Here’s a link to a post by a fella named Jeff Gunhus.  He talks about his experience with reading and interacting with his kids.  This has been a struggle for me in the past.  I am seeing some light though.  And Jeff’s suggestions have been confirmation that we’re on the right path.  As an example, my son and I read for an hour yesterday.  And we can’t wait to read today.  (By the way, I’m posting on my site in order to leave a digital footprint for my son’s to have some resources as they grow.)



  • Set up time to read with them. There’s always time. Sometimes you just have to carve it out of something else.
  • Have them read out loud. You’ll know better where they are getting hung up. Kids often avoid reading because they think they’re not good at it. Find out.
  • Read with a pencil. Underline words your reader has a tough time pronouncing or can’t define. Transfer to a separate page later.
  • Make them feel safe. Set the ground rules. Let them know that you didn’t know a lot of words when you were young. Confide that there are still words that you don’t know. There’s no judgment in the reading club.
  • Use books that are fun, easy reads at first. An author who ends each chapter with a white-knuckled cliffhanger helps.
  • Only let them read that book in your sessions. Make it special and use the cliffhanger to get them excited for the next session. Encourage a separate book to read outside the reading sessions if they are getting the bug.
  • Relate to the book. Figure out how your reader’s life relates to the characters. This helps critical thinking and makes it fun.
  • Write your own stories. They don’t have to be novels. But put your reader into the story, even if it’s just their name. Have fun with it.
  • Be consistent. Once you set this appointment, nothing can touch it. Nothing.
  • Have fun! This isn’t school, it’s supposed to be fun. You might be surprised. I didn’t expect to like the Harry Potter books but I loved them. Outside of writing Jack Templar, I had my own burst of reading. It was great fun and the more the boys saw me with a book in my hand, the more likely they were to do the same. The quiet mornings with my boys became some of my favorite times with them. I hope you can experience the same.

First Day of School: Prayers and Hopes

Many are starting school today (this week, this month).  We dropped our boys off and just like that, they’re off to learning and growing.  Here are some things I am praying and hoping for; not just for my kids but for all who are starting the school year.

*For Parenting Wisdom:  I am grateful for our teachers.  But I also know that our children’s education is our responsibility as parents and that it’s tough work.  So the prayer is one of humility, asking God to fill us with the wisdom needed to teach our children to be responsible, hard-working, playful, and thoughtful of others.

*teachers and staff members:  teachers pour themselves out so much every day.  Praying they would have the support needed to be the type of teachers that inspire and equip our children.  Praying that parents would get to know their teachers and see what their needs might be.

*a hope for building community:  it’s a hope of mine to build more long lasting relationships and community with parents.  In community we can give and receive support, help meet needs together, and impact the lives of our students and school.

*a hope for children to discover their talents and abilities:  the educational basics are great, we need them.  I also pray that students would discover their talents and abilities, and that we’d learn to value all the different types of ways students think and experience life.

*for those who don’t have educational opportunities:  I also can’t help but think of children (in the U.S. and abroad) who don’t have the opportunities to get the education they deserve because the country might be stricken by war, political upheaval, or poverty.

“Father, we ask to be parents that model Your love and grace to our kids.  We pray for our teachers and school communities–that they would become transformative communities of learning and compassion.  Amen”

The Parenting Paradigm

Our parenting is a product of our upbringing.  Like it or not.  The gift of knowing this dynamic is that we can reflect and learn from it, as well as add new tools to our parenting tool belt.

I recently came across the following graph on parenting:

ParentingStyleDiana Baumrind, a child development psychologist, came  up with the graph.

What quadrant do you fall into?  I float between a few of them and am obviously striving for the “Authoritative Style”.

Don’t Blame Others

This is a great passage of what salvation and life in the Kingdom of God looks like.  It’s a picture of someone trying to manage their life.  How to get along with God, self, and others.

These are good words to share with my son’s.  This is my prayer for them today; that they’d grow into these virtues by our example and God’s gracious gifts.

“Don’t blame others” – This is the one that stands out to me.  Relationships go bad really quick when we blame.  The root word for blame is blaspheme, which means to speak irreverently about God or others.  When we are wronged (real or perceived), to blame is to speak irreverently to the other; we show a lack of respect for who they are and thus devalue the other (and ourselves in the process).  Imagine that!  We devalue ourselves when we blame others.

From Psalm 15


1 God, who gets invited
    to dinner at your place?
How do we get on your guest list?

“Walk straight,
    act right,
        tell the truth.

3-4 “Don’t hurt your friend,
    don’t blame your neighbor;
        despise the despicable.

“Keep your word even when it costs you,
    make an honest living,
        never take a bribe.

“You’ll never get
if you live like this.”

Father/Son Weekend Birthday Celebration

Dad at La Jolla Shores. He loves the beach!

“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents.

(Mal. 4:5,6, The Message)

I’ve looked up to my dad ever since I can remember. And not because he’s taller. I am. By a lot! No. I’ve always looked up to my dad because…

…he really fears nothing. He’s not afraid of anybody or anything. I’ve heard stories. You know, “street stories”.

…he offers such presence. When he’s around, he lights up the room. Everyone will receive a handshake and a smile. He’s respectful to everyone he meets.

…he has this charm to him that is surreal.

…he offers care and concern in deep ways that makes you feel alive and welcomed. My mom told me that when he was a pastor in Idaho, he’d come home with no shoes, no jacket or shirt because he had given them away to others who were out in the snow, cold and lacking warmth.

…he loves John 3:16. It’s his life verse. I’m sure he’s trying to live it out, just as much as I am (or Tebow is!).

Dad at Petco Park.  He loved the feel of the park and the surrounding buildings.

Dad at Petco Park. He loved the feel of the park and the surrounding buildings.

I will say this only once and briefly in this post, because I’ve shared it enough times. We didn’t have the best relationship growing up. Like many (or most), there was fatherly absence and being let down. It happens. It will happen. I will be absent and let down my own kids. It happens. I’m asking for grace for this not to happen. But it’s inevitable.

Grandpa.  Christopher.  David.  He loves all his grandkids.

Grandpa. Christopher. David. He loves all his grandkids.

There are, however, turnaround points, breakthroughs if you will, when relationships change. When people change. When there is a special grace granted that alter lifestyles and attitudes. This special grace has swept over me. Thought I was gonna say my dad? Well, you’re partly right. But, for now, for the purpose of this little conversation, you need to understand that the special grace was first for me. It some ways, it had to be this way because I was to be part of the reconciliation work with my father. As I grew older and became more aware/mature, I now had a responsibility to own my wounds/hurts, grieve them and ask for healing. I also had to share with my dad how I felt and what bothered me. It was not easy to do. It was a 10 year process. But it was done. And I’m thankful for going through this valley of the shadow of death.

Both my dad and I have experienced this special grace in significant ways. For me, I have chosen to forgive (not forget!). I have chosen NOT to hold my dad in contempt. I have chosen to forgive the right to punish him (and myself). I have chosen to love, accept and build a relationship with my dad.

He has made drastic changes! Lifestyle changes. Attitude changes. Spiritual changes. He has shown remorse and made efforts to make things right.

So there has been a turning of hearts….mine towards his and his towards mine (I don’t think his heart ever turned from me…it was just confused).

I have much more to say but you’ll have to wait for the book! For now, please enjoy pictures of my dad and I enjoying ourselves on his birthday weekend.

Dad and I at Petco Park.

Dad and I at Petco Park.

Happy Birthday, apa! Te amo mucho. And may God continue to turn our hearts towards one another!

Dave-Parenting: “ALVIN!!!!!!!!!!”

We went to go see Alvin and the Chipmunks today.  I went for the kids…not because I want to be like Alvin.

I have been getting frustrated with my older one as of late.  He’s six years old going on 17.  He wants to argue with me about everything and wants to use the words “NO”, “I’m bored”, “No, Dad.  You’re wrong.  It’s like this ________!”  He’s smart and he knows it.

It’s tough being a parent.  I get frustrated, irritated and angry that he won’t listen, especially when I’m in a rush (which could be a lot of the times).  Hence, my connection to Dave, the parental figure, who I sound like.  Only, I’m saying “CHRISTOPHER!”

I want to be a loving, nurturing, supportive father.  I think I am, for the most part.  But there’s a string of days where things aren’t clicking in our relationship.

A relationship.  With my son.  Yes.  It’s a relationship.  I know they’re  our “kids”, but a relationship is still required.  A great one at that. It requires me understanding my little man, listening to his needs and trying to care for him in a way where he feels loved and cared for.


I was grateful for the movie because it reminded me of how parenting and growing up is tough.  Children are changing.  It’s draining being a parent.  It’s tough work.  It never stops.  It’s frustrating.  Dave’s frustation with Alvin is quite deliberate by the creator.  He must have related to the characters.

Nevertheless, I welcome and accept the reality that sometimes, things will escalate to some yelling and conflict.  We’re hispanic and we yell.  It’s all good.

It’s okay to be upset.  It’s not okay to lose our cool.

It’s okay to yell.  It’s not okay to yell demeaning rants.

It’s okay to be frustrated.  It’s not okay to lose self-control.

It’s okay to yell “Alvin”.  It’s not okay to scream at our kids and put them down.

Another movie reminded of what we ought to be saying to our kids AND what they (we) yearn to hear:  “You is smart. You is kind. You is important” (from “The Help”).

Peace be with us parents.